Getting back on track is not just a New Year resolution
4 February 2013:
Now that Christmas and New Year are truly behind us, it's time to forget the leftover puddings, mince pies and extra glasses of bubbly.
Ditch those New Year resolutions and instead, plan for good health in 2013 minus any guilt, according to experts at leading women's health organisation, Jean Hailes for Women's Health.
And, not surprisingly, a yearlong UK study at the University of Hertfordshire found that the key for women to keeping their resolutions was to share them with others as women benefit from the social support provided by friends and family.
Jean Hailes dietitian Terrill Bruere is a big believer in taking small steps towards good health. "Think of it as a plan for the rest of your life," she says. "You can't do it all at once or you'll run out of steam. Make a small change, see if it works and you can stick to it, and adjust your goals as you go along."
Here are some of Terrill's ideas to get you started.
Hot days, cool drinks
Watch out for sugar in those cool summer drinks. Here's an idea when you're at a party. Add ice and a slurp of juice to your glass, topping it up with unflavoured mineral water.
Be sun smart
You still need to get vitamin D in summer by exposing your face, arms, hands or legs in the sun for 10 minutes outside peak UV times (10am-2pm or 11am-3pm daylight saving times).
Feeling bloated or tired after all the celebrations? It can be tempting to detox, but you can detox naturally by drinking water, eating healthy food, walking regularly and getting enough sleep.
Make water a habit whenever you feel thirsty over the day. In most cases special drinks for rehydration are unnecessary, unless you are doing very high levels of exercises or you are unwell.
Learning how to relax can help reduce anxiety and stress. Relaxation can include positive thinking, activities such as walking or cycling, hobbies, yoga or meditation.
Benefits can include slower heart and breathing, reduced blood pressure and less muscle tension. It can also help improve energy, sleep and concentration.
Make physical activity simple, fun and social so you feel more motivated and inspired.
Picnics and fun finger food
Who doesn't like a picnic in summer? Pack finger foods for picnics and outings using fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, nuts, chicken pieces eggs or precooked seafood. Food that is quick and easy to pick up and eat in your fingers doesn't have to be fried or high in fat and sugar.
No oven dinners
Prepare simple food on hot days that doesn't need cooking or a lot of extra preparation. Remember, a simple wrap, tinned salmon or tuna or a bowl of fruit and yoghurt can still be the basis of a great meal.
Quality family and friend time
Diarise regular time to spend with those you love. It could be a weekly family dinner, regular movie night, or a bike ride followed by a picnic in the park.
A good night's sleep
Sleep disturbance affects most of us at some point. Ask yourself whether you need to change a few of your habits to get a good night's sleep. Sometimes a change in routine is all it takes.
Motivation comes from feeling successful. Tackle health challenges in small steps, making changes one at a time. If you get off track, pick yourself up and start again without the guilt.
Making changes – where to start
Not sure where to start and feeling overwhelmed? Keep a diary over a week and write down your habits and what you do every day. Think of some creative ways you could make small changes in your life. Try one and see how it goes.
"Making change is not easy and there's never a good time to start," says Terrill. "My best tip is to choose one thing that you feel confident you can do fairly easily and give it a go. Once you've achieved a small success, celebrate and build new small steps and challenges until you're doing it naturally most of the time."